Peacock's revival of the '80s family comedy Punky Brewster is just the latest in a seemingly never-ending string of shows from the Gen X era (early-to-mid '80s to early-to-mid '90s) to be rebooted for modern-day TV. Whether it's CBS reviving MacGyver and Magnum P.I., Netflix reuniting the Full House gang, or Peacock doing amazing things with Saved by the Bell, these shows keep coming back. But not all of them have... yet. Here are nine more series ripe for a 2020s reboot -- some have already had a failed attempt, some are rumored to be in development, while others seem to have been forgotten entirely. Still, with reboots of Head of the Class, Kate & Allie and Who's the Boss all on the way, we can't help but think it's only a matter of time before these shows find their way back.
So many sitcoms of the '80s and '90s were obsessed with the idea of nontraditional home child care, which makes sense given that Gen Xers were the among the first to be largely raised by two working parents and/or divorced parents. Who's going to keep the home while the modern world rages on? The answers came in the form of a flashy girl from Flushing, a posh butler and that new boy in the neighborhood. With news that a Nanny Broadway musical is in the works, can a series revival be far behind?
It feels like the only reason that we haven't already seen a modern-day remake of The A-Team is that it's a deeply CBS thing to do, and The A-Team was an NBC show. Airing for five seasons in the '80s, the series starred George Peppard, Dirk Benedict, Dwight Schultz, and, most famously, Mr. T as former special-ops "soldiers of fortune," betrayed by their government and now available to whomever needs them. In a TV landscape saturated with shows about the FBI and the Navy SEALS, a series about some guys who aren't operating on the government's dime could be a nice change of pace.
Given the show's enduring popularity, it's surprising that NBC hasn't yet revived the Golden Girls brand. While 99-year-old Betty White is the only surviving cast member, it seems like a no-brainer to unite the children — or even grandchildren — of Dorothy, Blanche, and Rose in a cute Miami home and follow their own golden years. Note to producers: you'd be wise to harness the original show's huge LGBTQ fanbase by queering the series for the 21st century.
While almost exclusively a punchline these days, the original Small Wonder, about a family whose robotics-engineer father builds a little-girl robot and then tries to pass her off as their adopted daughter, went for four seasons and 96 episodes in the 1980s. The gift of a show that's only appreciated in campy terms these days is that a reboot can be an all-out campy, post-modern affair. The original series aired in syndication, but was produced by 20th Century Fox, so if they still hold the rights this could be a weird and fascinating property for Hulu.
So, okay, we're not exactly living in the golden age of radio. But that only makes it a more interesting time to reboot this CBS sitcom about a ragtag group of employees at a Cincinnati FM station. What kind of waning-days-of-civilization exploits are taking place in the wasteland of modern radio? Revisiting WKRP in 2021 with a new cast could could go in any number of directions.
The dynamics of gender and sexuality at play in shows like Three's Company — whose premise involved Jack Tripper (John Ritter) pretending to be gay so his landlords would rent to him and two women — and My Two Dads — where a deceased mom left custody of her teenage daughter to the two mismatched straight men who might have been her father — are wildly different now than when these shows aired. Which makes it hard to imagine how these shows working in 2021 without wholly revamping them. So… revamp them! Have the gay-faking Jack Tripper be a catfishing villain. Let the Two Dads fall in love with each other as time goes by. Play with all the colors of that sitcom rainbow!
NBC keeps head-faking towards the prospect of reviving Quantum Leap — most recently there have been murmurings that they might reboot it for Peacock — but nothing has come of it... yet. Which is genuinely bizarre, because in this age of every TV drama (and a lot of the comedies) feeling like they need to do timeline gymnastics to be relevant, Quantum Leap would be the perfect way to get all timey-wimey and still have a ton of episodic fun. Original series stars Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell can reprise their roles as the time-hopping Sam Beckett and his guide Al, but you'd definitely want to pass this one on to a new generation.
One of the early FOX series, this one ran for three seasons in the early '90s and was a kind of spiritual descendant of Ferris Beuller's Day Off. Here, the titular character was a popular high school kid who did cool-TV-teen stuff like razz the principal, get out of responsibilities, and scheme about girls. It's wild to consider how many TV shows of the Gen X era were about popular teens, considering how suspicious we all were of popularity. Regardless, the recent success of the Saved by the Bell reboot, and the ways in which it undercut and sended up the Zack Morris character (and his Zack Morris-type son) would be a good template for how to update Parker Lewis for the 2020s.
Speaking of Saved by the Bell, one of its Saturday-morning NBC contemporaries was California Dreams, a reasonably cheesy show about a bunch of gorgeous Cali teens who lived by the beach and played in a band together. It was as watchable as it was unchallenging. This one is cheating, because it's more of a Millennial show than a Gen X show, but hear me out: update this for the Tiktok generation and have it be five teens living in one of those Influencer Houses that Andrew Yang keeps talking about. Worth considering!
Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.
TOPICS: The A-Team (1983), California Dreams, The Golden Girls, Mr. Belvedere, My Two Dads, The Nanny, Punky Brewster (2021 Series), Quantum Leap, Small Wonder, Three's Company, WKRP in Cincinnati, Parker Lewis Can't Lose